Life & Culture

These Mock Adverts Satirise Traditional Ideas of Masculinity

Jack Daly’s new series ‘The Real Man Catalogue’ exposes outdated ideas of what it means to be a man

Many ideas about masculinity are laughable, but they are totally pervasive in our society and can have serious consequences. In men, ‘masculine’ traits such as physical strength are celebrated, while ‘feminine’ traits such as sensitivity are vilified. As conversations around gender progress, these ideas become more and more exposed for what they are: ridiculous and outdated.

This is what British photographer Jack Daly wanted to illustrate through his new series The Real Man Catalogue. Taking the form of satirical adverts, these images promote items including a “maximum strength homosexuality suppressant” pill, a pair of inflatable Y-fronts and a toy gun dubbed “The Womanizer”. “The project is a series of out-dated print adverts, promoting a bunch of equally outdated idealisms using satirical products that could or could not actually exist in our world,” explains Daly.

Here, alongside these images, Daly tells us more about the series and what inspired him to create it.

“I’m satirising the whole concept of masculinity. The thought that men need to possess certain traits to be considered men is completely insane to me. We idealise a very primitive form of masculinity and have accepted this as the norm. Now this norm is being challenged, so it felt like the right time to satire these ideas in the hope that we can move forward and not look back to the ‘good old days,’ as my adverts are designed to do.

“I experienced a lot of these ideas of masculinity first-hand when I was growing up. I think all men have experienced them, especially as children, which is why my ads are mainly aimed at ‘helping’ boys become ‘real men’. I think a lot of our internal issues of masculinity are instilled in us as children and haunt us as we enter adulthood. There have been a few times recently where I’ve seen dads yelling at their sons for not being strong enough, or for showing emotion, and that made me realise nothing’s changed since I was growing up – the cycle just keeps going.

“I hope this project hits home with men and women, as women are also affected by these old-fashioned ideas of masculinity and normative behaviours. I just hope it helps guys question the normality of non-emotional expression and question areas they might hold back on for fear of not fitting into the ‘real man’ club.”